All writing involves characters, whether fact or fiction. Just as life, writing is made up of people. People are drawn to people, even if those people are fictional. Today, let’s discuss characters.
Name a piece of writing, from any age, any genre, real or imagined, and within the first two pages, you’ll meet someone. The challenge is, will the person you meet be interesting enough to go with them all the way to the final page? Some characters are so interesting, we meet them again in many other books.
How you do write a character? While there are many ways, let me share with you mine. Usually, I have a picture in my head of either the character themselves, or what I want the story to be about. At times, the plot is almost a character themselves.
The danger when you have a strong plot, is to create weak characters. A character can be on a page only for a few seconds, but they need to be more than just a plot device. Your last page may be powerful, but if the characters on that page were not fleshed out, you may not have any readers to get there with.
Of course, the opposite side of this is, the character doesn’t need to be so large that the plot is just a stage for them. The great detective needs a great mystery to solve. He needs at least a competent, if not brilliant antagonist.
This doesn’t mean a character needs to be flamboyant, not all characters should be likable. What they must be is magnetic. You have to be drawn to them in some way.
One way of doing that, is to place a character somewhere out of place. A little old lady sat knitting in a Park Avenue office. She had never liked visiting here, but today, it was most necessary. Those two sentences do a couple of things.
It introduces you to a character, who is out of place, with a problem. Next, it gets you interested in why she is in a place, that you know she doesn’t like. Yet, you don’t know either her name, what she looks like, or who’s office she’s in.
Keep in mind, she’s not elaborate at this point, and she’s not very original. Thousands of stories include little old ladies, but for a second or two, you wanted to know more. Quality characters invite you to know more, and take you from chapter one to chapter two.
Let’s talk again about chapters tomorrow. For today, in addition to 500 words, I would suggest you create a character. Write down whatever you like about them, but I would write them down, then put it in your writer’s notebook. You need one by the way, let’s talk more about that tomorrow too.